Yes, single speed. Just to clarify: with one gear.
It sounds a crazy idea to most but not to Markus Stitz, an Edinburgh-based bikepacker from Germany. In the autumn of 2015 (shortly after I finished my own somewhat-less-epic ride from Tarifa to Nordkapp), Markus set off to cycle around the world. Unlike most (you can’t accuse him of following trends), he headed west rather than east crossing the USA, New Zealand, Australia, much of south-east Asia before a final leg from Tehran back to Edinburgh. It was a journey of some 33,708 km over a period of 328 days so he clearly wasn’t going to break any records other than the rather intangible one of having the audacity to set off on a single speed bike in the first place. Here’s Markus reflecting upon the motivation for embarking upon such a journey and his subsequent experience:
“I love the simplicity…” he says for his reason for taking a bike with just one gear. He has something of the Henning Wehn about him (and his English is just as good – I love how he throws in the expression ‘cheap as chips’ into the conversation) and his talk last night in Hebden Bridge was just as entertaining as his fellow German, albeit with fewer jokes.
“If you really want to do it just do it…. for me this has been fun and I think whatever you do, if you take a year off it should be fun. Of course you’ll suffer every now and you will have a rocky day but I think overall you should really enjoy it.”
He’s spent the past year devising more bikepacking trips although on a different scale in Scotland and there are full details of the routes he’s created on his website. He also has a book in the pipeline so watch out for that at some point in the future. Details of Markus’ future speaking events can be found here.
Images credit: Markus Stitz, markusstitz.com